Janette Vandenberg ’79 Aardema

Janette Vandenberg Aardema (Jan), age 63, of East Grand Rapids passed away on Monday, May 17 after a fearless battle with cancer.

Jan was born and raised in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated from East Grand Rapids High School and Hope College in Holland, Michigan with a Business Degree. She spent 10 years as a training manager for Gantos, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She would often talk about her weekly travel in and out of state to hire and train for the popular clothing store.

Jan met and married her husband, Bob Aardema, in 1988. Jan and Bob raised two children, Christina and Bobby, and she enthusiastically began volunteering in the EGR school system. Jan’s involvement with the school led to a full time position as a paraprofessional in the Special Education Department. She was a passionate advocate of the underdog, creating a positive learning environment for each of her students. Jan retired from East Grand Rapids Public Schools in 2019 and spent the next two years in Naples, Florida, enjoying time with family and making new friends. An avid traveler, Jan, Bob and the family would spend a few weeks each summer traveling throughout North America and Europe. Along with travel, Jan thoroughly enjoyed biking, hiking and reading.

Jan is preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Gretchen Vandenberg. Jan is survived by her husband, Bob Aardema, her two children, Christina (Maitlan) Cramer and Bobby Aardema, and one grandchild, Raegan Cramer, the bright light in Jan’s eyes. In addition, she is survived by her sister, Wendy (Ken) Yerkes, niece, Samantha and nephew, Jake.

Jan was an amazing woman, who lived a vibrant life and treasured every moment. Her kind heart and infectious personality was iconic within the community. Her big smile could light up a room, making way for new friends everywhere she went. A loving wife, mother, grandparent, sister, teacher and friend, Jan wanted a celebration of life with love, laughter, and big smiles. To all of Jan’s many friends, please join us in bright colors to toast to Jan’s life and legacy. The celebration will be held at The Paddock Place, 1033 Lake Drive SE on Saturday, July 31 from 3pm to 6pm. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Kids Food Basket in Grand Rapids, MI.

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